The future is frightening. Our democracy is crumbling. Never has the world been so uncertain than it’s become in the last week. With tensions rising and more questions appearing amidst an absence of straight answers and truth, it’s become a comfort to look back and reminisce on the past. Nostalgia is like a little piece of a better world, an escape into a time and place that brings back memories of summer days, old friends, and a time that was more carefree. To feel more grounded, we turn off the TV, look away from the news, put away our phones, and melt into the lush sounds of a time gone by. This week’s music brings us some artists that have found a perfect nest within the crooks of nostalgia, blending the sounds of the past into a wave of the future. Within these albums and songs comes new discovery within the comfort of our cherished memories. These are our #NewMusic choices for Friday, January 27th…
Train // a girl a bottle a boat
Any fan of Train knows that listening to their music is like taking in little drops of sunshine. In a week so bleak and dark as this one, a little bit of sunshine is what we need. On their tenth studio album, Train push their sound forward by looking back on the standards. The first single from the record, “Play That Song,” takes the riff from the 1938 classic “Heart and Soul” and creates a melody for modern audiences, a simple love song accessible to generations of fans. Throughout the album, Train take the pop they make so well, kick it up with some production flair, and are rife with references to the classic songs and sounds of the 30s and on. “Valentine” looks back to the era of doo-wop music, while “Loverman” (featuring Priscilla Renea) taps into the sounds of 50s pop rhythms (think The Ronettes) to weave a melody of a man at sea and his lover back home longing to be together. a girl a bottle a boat is a record that is full of heart, full of love, and an escape into a sunnier and brighter yesterday.
Gabriel Garzón-Montano // Jardín
During his Golden Globes acceptance speech, Donald Glover thanked Atlanta trap group Migos for their song “Bad and Boujee” and dubbed them the Beatles of our time. Though Migos (whose debut album, C U L T U R E, also dropped Friday) may make some inventive trap music, if you’re looking for a closer Beatles sound, drawing on the Fab Four’s rich close harmonies and experimentation, look no further than Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s debut album, Jardín. Classically trained and a multi-instrumentalist, Garzón-Montano creates a sound that is all at once a perfect mix of today’s soul and funk with a glaze of Sgt. Peppers or Magical Mystery Tour era Beatles to create a modern record with an imprint of the late 60s and early 70s. On album opener “Trial,” Garzón-Montano croons over a rich medley of instrumentation, showcasing not only his vocal abilities but his skills as a multi-instrumentalist. “Fruitflies” takes his command of the piano and adds a modern touch with a simple Moog synth.The full spectrum sound comes together best on album highlight, “Crawl,” which layers his voice on top of itself, creating the close harmonies the Beatles did so well. All this served on top of a band of bass, a bouncy piano line, drums, and a hint of horns. With Jardín, Garzón-Montano shows us what the Fab Four may have sounded like if they survived into the era of modern R&B.
Rose Elinor Dougall // Stellular
It’s been 7 years since the release of Rose Elinor Dougall’s debut record, Without Why. Now after a long wait, the English singer-songwriter returns to top form with her second solo album. While many other artists aim to storm the charts with more synthetic instrumentation, Dougall commits to a full band and lush songwriting to create a big sounding album that would fit perfectly on the shelf with the 80s pop rock records of Blondie and Fleetwood Mac. “Closer” takes Dougall’s voice and harmonizes over a catchy bass line and chorus that will worm it’s way inside your head. And though much of the record boasts this upbeat sunny 80s pop, “Answer Me” showcases Dougall’s variety with a ripe piano ballad akin to the best of Olivia-Newton or Elton John. With a dreamy voice and some throwback synths in the blend, Rose Elinor Dougall has created a sophisticated pop rock record perfect for a sunny drive down the California coast.
Kehlani // SweetSexySavage
If the title of the album isn’t enough indication (an ode to the TLC classic, CrazySexyCool), Kehlani’s official debut is the perfect throwback to the R&B sounds of the 90s and early 2000s. Kehlani first came into the public eye as the lead of a teen pop band on the popular reality show, America’s Got Talent. Splitting from the group, the Oakland native rose quickly with her mixtapes, Cloud 19 and You Should Be Here, the latter earning her a Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Following a poetic spoken word intro, CrazySexyCool launches into “Keep On,” giving the listener a perfect taste of what to expect from the rising star. Kehlani opens a window to the world and creates refreshingly honest R&B, admitting to her own flaws and faults in a song drafted like a confessional letter for her significant other. Drawing on her life experiences and personal struggles, “Not Used to It” continues the trend, admitting her difficulty in letting people in while looking back at a life growing up on the Oakland streets. “Lose a n***a every week to a drive-by,” Kehlani sings. “Whole bookshelf of stories behind these eyes.” With this debut, Kehlani adds her name to an ever-growing list of the best R&B voices of yesterday and today.
Gallant x Tablo x Eric Nam // Cave Me In (Single)
It was apparent on his debut album, Ology, and the fact remains with this, his latest single: Gallant has a timeless voice. Teaming up with two of South Korea’s biggest stars, Tablo and Eric Nam, Gallant has created the perfect throwback R&B slow jam, bringing to mind the voices of Maxwell and R. Kelly. Gallant’s vocal style is one too rarely heard in today’s music. Luckily, these soulful sounds live on in him, and blend well with the verses from Tablo and Nam, giving the throwback sound a future home in generations of listeners worldwide. Magnetizing in mood and lyric, “Cave Me In” is a 90s throwback that showcases a shared international outlook for three of the world’s best.
MILCK // Quiet (Single)
We break now from our journey into the past for a window into the present and future. Last weekend, following the election of President Donald J. Trump, history was made around the world as men, women, and children gathered in protest in what will be known as the largest organized march in history, unifying millions of voices worldwide. In D.C. alone, more than half a million marchers protested against the new administration, three times as many as there were at the inauguration the day before. Amidst the voices came a viral video. Los Angeles singer-songwriter MILCK joined a group of strangers at the D.C. march for an acapella performance of her song, “Quiet.” The video of the performance spread, and soon was dubbed the unofficial anthem of the Women’s March on Washington. Now with the studio version in the hands of the public, it’s no question why MILCK’s song struck a chord with so many. “Quiet” is destined to be a classic. Within it’s extremely powerful words is a story of confidence, power, and strength. It is a representation of the time we live in, a song of today, a song of the future, and a song for a generation standing up together. Though it may be too early to call it the Song of the Year, it’s no question that “Quiet” earns the title of our Song of the Week.